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34                   HISTORY OF PERSIA
The 'Proclamation of War against Muwia by AH^ A.H,
35  (656).—Upon his election to the Caliphate Ali was
advised to pursue and punish the assassins, but declined
on the ground that he lacked the power*    At the same
time he was unwise enough to dismiss Muavia, in spite
of entreaties  to leave him in his post until  his  own
position was secure.    Muavia thereupon encouraged the
belief that Ali was in collusion with the murderers, and
consequently no other course was open to the newly
elected Caliph but to proclaim war against him.
The 'Battle of the Camel) A.H. 36 (656).—AH was un-
fortunate in having Ayesha, the favourite wife of the
Prophet, as his enemy* She was used us a tool by
Talha1 and Zobayr, who seiaed Basra after a struggle
with the loyalists. Upon the receipt of reinforcements
from Kufa, Ali advanced on Basra and attempted to
avoid civil war, but failed owing to an attack brought on
by the murderers of Othman, Consequently, the Battle
of the Camel, so called from Ayesha's appearance in the
fighting line in a camel litter, was fought with intense
bitterness and with terrible losses on both sides. Talha
and Zobayr were killed and Ayesha was captured* The
vanquished were treated with magnanimity, but the battle
was a heavy blow to the best interests of Islam, and
might have been avoided had Ali from the first denounced
the assassins of Othman and refused to have any dealings
with them.
The Baffle of Siffin^ A.H, 37 (657).—After his victory
at Basra, Ali proceeded to Kufa, which he made his
capital. Organizing a large army, he marched up the
Tigris and traversed the desert of Mesopotamia to the
Euphrates, which he crossed. Muavia was ready with a
powerful force, and after a fruitless attempt at reconcilia-
tion and much desultory skirmishing the battle of Siflm
was^fought in A.H. 37 (657). This desperate combat was
distinguished by many feats of courage and raged for
,three days without decisive result* Muavia, becoming
disheartened, agreed to a stratagem suggested by Amr,
and caused his men to advance wi& scrolls of the Koran
1 Talha had saved Mohamed'e life at Ohod.